Professional Biography

Tema Smith is a diversity advocate, writer and Jewish community builder. She is currently the Director of Community Engagement at Holy Blossom Temple, Toronto’s oldest synagogue, and a freelance writer whose work has been published in the Forward, MyJewishLearning, the Globe and Mail, and the Canadian Jewish News. Tema is dedicated to building a meaningful and inclusive Jewish community through research, training, writing and relational engagement work.

Over the past ten years, Tema has worked to advance the conversation on racially diverse Judaism, working with organizations like Be’chol Lashon and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and conducting trainings for local Jewish organizations like the Downtown Jewish Community Council, housed at Toronto’s Miles Nadal JCC.  

Before beginning her career in Jewish communal service, Tema was a graduate student in Religion and Politics and Early Judaism under the supervision of the former Canada Research Chair in Modern Jewish Thought at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. 

(Not So Professional) Biography

Tema gets excited about good coffee, craft beer (especially if it’s sour or funky), making playlists on Spotify, and going out dancing with friends.

Tema lives with a chronic illness called ankylosing spondylitis, which is a kind of inflammatory arthritis that primarily affects her lower back, but also often causes joint issues in her hands and feet, and a litany of other unpleasant symptoms. She is involved in patient advocacy through the Canadian Spondylitis Association. She writes about life with A.S. infrequently on her other website, Kiss My A.S..

She is often very online, and has been called the “nicest person on Twitter” more than once. Chelsea Clinton even retweeted her!

Tema lives in her hometown of Toronto with her sidekick, a ten-year-old extraordinarily stubborn shih tzu named Tashi, her pour over coffee gear, and way too many books.